dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Songs That Were Bigger Than The Movies They Were Featured In

I'm gonna need your help on this one.

Yesterday Take That's "Rule The World" popped up on the iPod, and I got to thinking about how, despite the fact that the film it was from, Stardust, flopped, the song became the fifth best-selling single of 2007 in the U.K.

How many times has this been the case—a successful song far outlives the film it was originally featured on the soundtrack for? Perhaps one of the most glaring examples in recent memory is the Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It From You," a #9 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1995 whose parent movie, Empire Records, only grossed about $303,000 according to IMDB.

A few that come to mind:

1. "I'll Remember" - Madonna (With Honors)
2. "Crazy For You" - Madonna (Vision Quest)
3. "Live To Tell" - Madonna (At Close Range)
4. "After All" - Cher & Peter Cetera (Chances Are)
5. "Stay (I Missed You)" - Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (Reality Bites)
6. Anything from Xanadu.

Damn! Madge is like the box office kiss of death. What are some others?


Sunday, June 29, 2008

At Least The Brits Get Ne-Yo's "Closer"

Ne-Yo's spacy, dancetastic "Closer" has unseated Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" to become the ninth single to hit #1 on the U.K. chart in 2008. In the States, "Closer" has peaked at #25 thus far.

With the year halfway over now (where the hell did the time go?), here are Old Blighty's other eight #1s to date:

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Closer" - Ne-Yo *1 week*
2. "Viva La Vida" - Coldplay
3. "No Air" - Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown
4. "Forever" - Chris Brown
5. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna
6. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles
7. "Sweet About Me" - Gabriella Cilmi
8. "That's Not My Name" - The Ting Tings
9. "Warwick Avenue" - Duffy
10. "We Made It" - Busta Rhymes Feat. Linkin Park

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The George Michael Concert: All I Wanted To Hear Was "Freedom '90"

Caught George Michael at The Forum here in L.A. on Wednesday. As you can see, I was front row, center...

By George, it was a fan-effing-tastic show, too. He did most of his solo and Wham! hits, except for "Wake Me Up," "Monkey" and "I Want Your Sex." Nor did we hear the Aretha Franklin duet, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)."

Surely they could've projected that fat bitch on the screen!

Highlights for D'luv were "Fastlove," "Praying For Time" and "Careless Whisper," the latter of which GM held the mic out to the audience for every other line, who ecstatically yelled the lyrics back to him throughout the giant auditorium. (George comically admitted earlier on, "I'm an old man and I can't hit the high notes.") But what I really wanted to hear was my fave, "Freedom '90."

There was a classy moment where George pointed out that Dr. Phil was in the audience, saying that while his wife looked like she was "having a whale of a time," Phil was scowling. A camera focused on the grumpy doc and projected his bald head on the stage's big screen, which got most of the audience booing!

We cut out after the first encore to avoid the mad dash for the exit. And it was then, while out in the parking lot, that I heard the opening strains of "Freedom '90." Sigh.

Apparently just before that, Bo Derek walked on stage with a birthday cake for George, as it was his 45th that day. People mentioned that other celebs in the audience were Michael's Eli Stone co-star, Johnny Lee Miller, Cyndi Lauper (in town for tonight's True Colors show), Corey Feldman, JC Chasez and Pink.

All in all, George rocked it in what was basically a one-man show, with some help from six backing singers and a band that was offstage most of the evening. The lights and video projections were a plus, too.

Get this old daddy a Vegas act on the pronto.

Great reviews of the show:
* Los Angeles Times
* Reuters
* Entertainment Weekly

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Rough Justice: There's Nothing Wrong With Kylie

XOLondon and Paul FizzyPop point out that there's an article in the upcoming July issue of Attitude titled "What's Gone Wrong With Kylie."

I thought to myself, Self, this sounds so familiar! Self reminded me that, coincidentally, I just happened to write about this very topic in a post titled "Do We Have Kylie Fatigue" way back in early May.

"Amazing," no?

My two cents on Kylie, X and the whole shebang now that all the dust has settled: great album, but it's likely the record label model—not to mention a rethinking of how what worked promoting an artist in 1988 (or even 2001) isn't gonna fly in 2008—that needs examining more than La Minogue.

Cut the broad a break. She's been doing this for 21 years now. It's been a great run and it's hardly over yet. There'll never be another "Can't Get You Out Of My Head." It's called lightning in a bottle for a reason. Do you see many others who've lasted this long?

They should be so lucky.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

If You Could Only Aim The Rocket Launcher At One...

The Jonas Brothers is one tween phenomenon I'll opt to sit out painting my nails or gouging out my eyes with a soup spoon during. That said, their Disney Channel High School Musical knockoff original movie, Camp Rock, debuted to 9 million viewers a week ago, which is apparently pretty good.

But screw these fuckmonkeys and their gazillion songs dominating the iTunes chart at the moment...the real soundtrack cut from Camp Rock to look out for is Meaghan Martin's "Too Cool":

Look out, Heidi Montag...there's a new power-soul diva in town!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Katy Perry Tops The Chart, But Can She Finger Her Way To A Lasting Career?

See, America really is ready for gay marriage! Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" has topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, knocking off the one-week reign of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" (both of which are on the Capitol label).

But isn't there kind of a nagging feeling of one-hit wonderism surrounding Sapphic Katy? "I Kissed A Girl" (not to mention her pre-major label tune, "Ur So Gay") just smacks of novelty choon, a la Jill Sobule's own "I Kissed A Girl" from 1995.

Here's the Fabio-starring vid for the latter:

(True story: D'luv brought food to Jill Sobule in 1997 when he was a room service waiter at the Pittsburgh Doubletree Hotel. Classy broad. Good tipper.)

So what do we think? Will Katy Perry skyrocket after the success of her first #1 single and enjoy an Avril-like career, or will she be sent down Washed-Up Hooker Lane, a trail originally blazed by Martika, Alannah Myles and Sinead O'Connor? (Lisa Loeb and Karyn White used to live there, too, but they luckily sold their properties when the market was still good.)

Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus matches the #10 peak of "See You Again" this week with "7 Things," which flies up from #70. Camp Rock starlet Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas have the Hot Shot Debut at #11 with "This Is Me," and Rihanna's groovy, Eiffel 65-esque "Disturbia" debuts at #18.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry *1 week*
2. "Lollipop" - Lil Wayne Feat. Static Major
3. "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis
4. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna
5. "Pocketful Of Sunshine" - Natasha Bedingfield
6. "Viva La Vida'" - Coldplay
7. "Forever" - Chris Brown
8. "Push It Baby, Part 2" - Plies Feat. Ne-Yo
9. "When I Grow Up" - Pussycat Dolls
10. "7 Things" - Miley Cyrus *sales gainer*

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Suck Each Other Off Already

Coldplay's fourth album Viva La Vida will debut at #1 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, says the trade rag, after first-week sales of 737,000. That's a great start, but it's still just behind Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, which moved over a million copies for 2008's best debut last week.

I'm telling you, Chris Martin and Guy Berryman just need to hit it...like major 69 action in the "Viva La Vida" video, which is being directed by Anton Corbijn. That'd boost sales a bit! See, why don't these goddamn labels ever hire me for these big marketing decisions?

Whore du jour Katy Perry debuts at #9 on the new album chart with One Of The Boys. So much for kissing girls for a sales ploy. My advice to her would be do ditch amateur hour and just go for full-on Requiem For A Dream ass-to-ass action. And use a broom handle with the bristles snapped off. That alone is a guaranteed #6 chart position.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Head For The Hills: It's Heidi Montag's New Single!

Just what the summer needed: a new blockbuster smash hit from bony Hills ho, Heidi Montag! You may recall Heidi's other masterpieces from earlier this year, "Higher" and the aptly-titled "No More."

Now get ready for "Fashion!"

I'm not sure what's more stunning: her screaming "Heidi!" at the very beginning, or the fact that she starts speaking in tongues during the bridge.

Meanwhile, the song's producer, RedOne -- who is apparently working on Michael Jackson's new album with Akon -- had this to say to US Weekly:
"I'm writing and producing [Heidi's] whole album. We are going to do it big. She finally found someone she connected with — me. It's all about the connection. When it doesn't work with an artist, it doesn't work. With her, it's perfect. You can tell in the music that we connect."


Monday, June 23, 2008

Wait...Timbaland Is Straight?!?!?

Pop maestro Timbaland got married last night -- to a woman -- in Aruba. Timbland's wife -- again, a woman -- is Monique Idlett, and the two apparently have a daughter together -- from having man-and-woman-sex -- who was born in November.

Monique and Tim reportedly were hitched ghetto-style while wearing sweatpants at the beginning of the month in Virginia, before having the swank ceremony last night in Aruba.

Sweats are pretty classy, even for Virginia. Trust me, the only way to have a trashier wedding would've been if they threw down in my Pennsylvania hometown, at Burger Hut II, as Maude the hostess took off her wooden leg and officiated the nuptials before pole-dancing on the deep fryer.

*Sniff* Sorry...I always cry at weddings in burger joints.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Roman Cavalry Choirs Are Singing Coldplay

It's day nine in Pennsylvania, and this trip's soundtrack has definitely consisted mostly of Coldplay. Trying to fight it was futile. Coldplay at #1 on the U.S. single chart. Coldplay at #1 on the U.K. album chart and single chart. Coldplay at #1 on next week's Billboard album chart.

Hell, MoogaBoo and I even played Coldplay at our fave Pittsburgh bar Friday night. Ah, well, today's the last full day here before flying back to California, where I narrowly missed the tail end of a heatwave. All of which, of course, is riveting information.

Here's one more PA sky, from a drive in the country this week.

Viva la vida!

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Viva La Vida" - Coldplay *1 week*
2. "Closer" - Ne-Yo
3. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna
4. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles
5. "Forever" - Chris Brown
6. "Sweet About Me" - Gabriella Cilmi
7. "That's Not My Name" - The Ting Tings
8. "Singin' In The Rain" - Mint Royale
9. "Warwick Avenue" - Duffy
10. "No Air" - Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why The Hell Wasn't There A Third Goddamn Shayne Ward Single Off Breathless?

This pic really illustrates all of Shayne Ward's talents...

If you're any normal, red-blooded Joe, once in awhile you just stop and ponder life's mysteries -- like why God invented Sudoku, or what the hell happened with the third single off Shayne Ward's Breathless album.

Late last year it was two U.K. Top 10 hits -- double A-side "No U Hang Up/If That's OK With You" and "Breathless" -- then nothing. For awhile there the single-worthy "U Got Me So" was on the schedule for a release, but then it got held back and has apparently been scrapped.

What...is Simon Cowell too busy with the five zillion shows he juggles worldwide to bother with further promotion of Shayne's truly fantastic album? Was Louis Walsh too busy getting his A stuffed by some back-alley tough in a limo?

Oh well. At least we'll always have --

Squeeze it, hooker!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coldplay Become Only Third U.K. Act To Top Billboard's Hot 100 This Decade

As strange as it sounds, before Coldplay this week, James Blunt and Leona Lewis were the only other U.K. acts to top the Billboard Hot 100 in the '00s, with "You're Beautiful" and "Bleeding Love," respectively. Now "Viva La Vida" can be thrown into that elite club. Thank Apple (the company, not Chris Martin's daughter), who've used the song in an ad campaign.

But doesn't Coldplay just seem like one of those bands that, despite their über-popularity, would never have a #1 single? They're like Radiohead -- their albums will top the charts, but a giant, across-the-boards hit single...and one on Top 40 radio, to boot? It couldn't happen here.

Apparently it did, though. "Viva La Vida" looks set to top the U.K. chart this Sunday, as well. Meanwhile, the same-titled album sold over 300,000 copies on its first day of release here in the States, and Billboard is predicting it'll end up in the range of 750,000 moved to top the album chart next week.

Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" is the Airplay Gainer at #2, and I can attest to that -- I was in a restaurant on Sunday while here visiting my hometown, and heard it blaring over the speakers. I don't know how lyrics like "I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chap stick" from a female pop star went over with the small-town Father's Day crowd, but I like to think that brave trailblazers of freedom like Katy Perry and Tila Tequila are making America a safer place for not just gays, but for us all.

Nice to see Natasha Bedingfield move up to #6 with "Pocketful Of Sunshine." One notch higher and she'll tie the peak position of "Unwritten" from two years back. And at #8, Chris Brown's "Forever" is now back in the Top 10 where it belongs. I knew that one and Ne-Yo's "Closer" (up 13 positions to #25) would do well this week because I heard them playing at my favorite Pittsburgh dive bar this past weekend. Now, granted, it was me who played them on the jukebox, but still...!

On a final note, somehow...some way...New Kids On The Block have scraped their way to #42 with "Summertime." Life? A cruel torturer.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Viva La Vida'" - Coldplay *1 week*
2. "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry *airplay gainer*
3. "Lollipop" - Lil Wayne Feat. Static Major
4. "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis
5. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna
6. "Pocketful Of Sunshine" - Natasha Bedingfield
7. "No Air" - Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown
8. "Forever" - Chris Brown
9. "Love In This Club" - Usher Feat. Young Jeezy
10. "Shake It" - Metro Station *sales gainer*

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

D'luv's Greatest Hits

One great thing about working at a magazine was all the pop stars I had the privilege of interviewing over the years, as well as picking and choosing who went into the mag.

I thought I'd share some of the interviews, which are linked below. It's not everything, but rather a smattering of some of the more groovy ones.

One piece I was always proud of was the January 2007 cover story on Gwen Stefani for Instinct. Sadly, you can't see them all layed out with the photos as they appeared in print, but the text is still all there.

* Emma Bunton, March 2005
* Bananarama, December 2005
* Rihanna, May 2006
* Kelis, June 2006
* Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters), September 2006
* Fergie, October 2006

* Gwen Stefani, January 2007
* Ashley Tisdale, May 2007
* Dan Gillespie Sells (The Feeling), July 2007
* Enrique Iglesias, August 2007
* Robyn, April 2008
* Leona Lewis, May 2008
* Cyndi Lauper, June 2008


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Career Advice For Natasha Bedingfield: Ditch NKOTB And Start Banging Coldplay

Here's a pic of Natasha Bedingfield where you can almost see her jugs and her pocketful of sunshine. You could argue that NB and Coldplay are pretty much the most successful U.K. pop acts in America today.

Whilst at Best Buy today, I caught that Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And therkek dldkdd kdk 3e we*$% &$*&km ykdila ipj eki ek72 was on sale for $9.99. And since I'm miles away from my iTunes account this week, I decided to buy it in the archaic form of the Compact Disc! (And whilst "whilst" sounds like douchefuckery whenever an American says/types it, it felt appropriate whilst one is discussing Coldplay.)

The album seemed decent after one spin -- and by that I mean it's goin' in my CD cabinet with all those other "decent" Coldplay CDs and never getting listened to again. But it's confounding why Natasha, who's racked up five Billboard chart hits over the past three years, is slumming as an opening act for out-of-tune warbling dunces New Kids On The Block this fall.

She's probably in one of those odd situations where her albums don't sell well enough to justify a full tour of her own, but why not pair her up with Coldplay? Natasha sings deep and meaningful songs about the times we live in, and Chris Martin and Co. do throw-away, trivial pop, so they'd balance each other out perfectly.

Plus, she could totally try to make out with Guy Berryman (below, second from left), or grab his naked butt after slipping him rhohypnol.

Oh well, maybe the Jonas Brothers will be in need of a coatcheck girl or a stripper for their next tour, and NB can finally take it to the next level.

New Towleroad column up now!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blue Skies, Dirty Old Men And Coldplay...I Must Be Back In Pennsylvania

I'm in Pennsylvania for the week, and snapped this pic outside a restaurant this evening to prove to folks in Los Angeles that not every city is wrapped in haze.

The U.K. chart this week is kind of like this guy I banged back in 2000: cheap and lifeless. (If the chart was missing a few teeth and had a limp, it'd be total deja vu!)

The big activity is Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends debuting at #1 on the album tally, after three days of an early release on Thursday, where it moved over 300,000 copies. On the singles chart, Chris Brown moves up to #8, which is one notch higher than the song has hit in the U.S. so far.

Hope everyone had a great Father's Day. And if you don't have a father in your life, just have sex with older men with Amex Platinum cards to fulfill that void in your life. Works every time.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Singin' In The Rain" - Mint Royale *2 weeks*
2. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna
3. "Closer" - Ne-Yo
4. "That's Not My Name" - The Ting Tings
5. "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles
6. "Sweet About Me" - Gabriella Cilmi
7. "Warwick Avenue" - Duffy
8. "Forever" - Chris Brown
9. "Black And Gold" - Sam Sparro
10. "Heartbreaker" - Will.I.Am Feat. Cheryl Cole

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Friday, June 13, 2008

The Week That Was: June 13, 2008

Happy Friday the 13th!

Isn't this class? I took this pic while driving to the office this week, my last week of work at Instinct. Get a closer look at that license plate.

Kind of says it all, really.

One of the last interviews I did for the mag was with Cyndi Lauper. It's supposed to be posted on their website this weekend at some point, but I thought this part might be interesting to some folks -- it's Cyndi talking about recording the songs on Bring Ya To The Brink all around the world:
“Everybody had their own thing. I tried to bring my Mbox but I wasn’t familiar with how I could do it with their systems. So it was kind of difficult. A lot of them use Logic. I’m not good on that at all. Pro Tools is right in front of your face. Logic is like, there are a lot of files there. Each one, technically, works differently. You know, and of course I work differently. I’ve been back seat driving most of my life, but I have the computer and I have the Mbox and I have the microphones, and I bring the shit that I need to do.

“And of course in Sweden – when I tell you they’re really not used to singer-writer/producers who are women – it throws them. I was in quick and I was out. It was actually a great experience, and I had the best time. Even though the Swedes speak English, there are a lot of things you say that they can’t understand. They can watch The Sopranos, but when they actually meet someone who speaks that way, it’s kinda difficult! No, it’s true! That’s how I talk! There were some things I didn’t understand, and then, in the end I felt like, “Well, I was wrong about that.” But I still had a great time, because I love other artists. I love the community and I love the fact of collaboration.”
Cyndi performed during Good Morning America's summer concert series this morning. She's on The View Monday. Here's the GMA clip (annoyingly, they only broadcast this old chestnut and not "Into The Nightlife"):

Is it weird that Natasha Bedingfield is opening for New Kids On The Block on their reunion tour this fall? Isn't she kind of too classy for that?

The Pet Shop Boys have cut some tracks with Xenomania. Says their website, "one, two or more will be featured on the upcoming album."

Billboard notes that Keane are "nearly done" with their third album, which was recorded in Paris and Berlin with Aimee Mann producer Jon Brion.

Let's hope there are nekkid pics of keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley (center) tickling his ivories in the CD booklet. Or me tickling his keys. Or fiddling his strings. Or rocking his whammy bar.

Beating his stick? Ugh.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finally, Some Classy Literature: Tell-All Memoir By Madonna's Brother Due In July

Stare! Stare into the face of madness!!

Good thing Madonna's face is frozen in a permanent smile, otherwise she'd no doubt be shrieking over news that her estranged brother, Christopher Ciccone, has a memoir about the old bat coming out in mid-July.

Check out this trash from the AP:
The [Simon & Schuster] imprint, Simon Spotlight Entertainment, had been promoting a celebrity memoir for July, without identifying the author or contents. Life With My Sister Madonna will have a first printing of 350,000. Financial details were not disclosed.

"Ciccone's extraordinary memoir is based on his life and 47 years of growing up with and working with his sister — the most famous woman in the world," the publisher said Wednesday in a statement.
The article goes on to note that the Vampyre's whipping-bitch, Liz Rosenberg, says Madge and her brother are "no longer close," and "Madonna has not cooperated with any biography about herself."

This is gonna be awesome! High schools across the nation should slap this on their required-reading lists immediately! The last book that shredded the Material Botox Syringe was Rupert Everett's autobiography, but something tells me this will be much, much more literary and classy -- a tome worthy of the lady herself.


I'd Like To Shove Chris Martin Up The Pussycat Dolls

Last week in the comments, Chart Rigger reader Shaun posed the thoughtful question: Is Chris Martin doable? Hmmm...

I'm not so sure, Shaun. Looking at this picture, by the time you got him out of his seven layers of 1920's carnival garb and got him into a shower to scrub off all the chiggers and pretension...oh, who am I kidding? I'd joust his mouth.

Admittedly, I like Coldplay's latest single, "Viva La Vida." The lyrics are kind of like, What? History class? That was, like, 15 years ago, but "Viva La Vida" has the type of audacious, big-sounding grandness to it usually heard in the '80s by folks like Tears For Fears, or in Jim Steinman productions. It honestly deserves to be #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.

The yo-yo effect appears to be in full force as Natsha Bedingfield re-enters the Top 10 with "Pocketful Of Sunshine" and Chris Brown's "Forever" is just outside it at #11, after initially debuting at #9 seven weeks ago. Even Mariah Cougar Carey slips back up to #19 with "Bye Bye," her second hit to cash in on dead grandmas and little children in coffins. Do it for JC, girlfriend!

Last week I pondered whether the Pussycat Dolls would find themselves facing a sophomore pussyslump, but so far they're probably snorting catnip in delight that "When I Grow Up" is the week's Sales Gainer, and jumps from #76 to #31.

Here are the broads, now a fivesome, performing the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few weeks back:

I think the cats in the alley behind my house sound better. But, hey, maybe now it's a good time to dig out that shelved Nicole Scherzinger banterview MoogaBoo and I did last year! You know, shelved...like her solo album was after her six singles went straight to the litterbox.

The U.S. Top 10:

1. "Lollipop" - Lil Wayne Feat. Static Major *5 weeks*
2. "Viva La Vida'" - Coldplay
3. "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis
4. "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry
5. "Take A Bow" - Rihanna *airplay gainer*
6. "Love In This Club" - Usher Feat. Young Jeezy
7. "No Air" - Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown
8. "Sexy Can I" - Ray J & Young Berg
9. "Pocketful Of Sunshine" - Natasha Bedingfield
10. "4 Minutes" - Madonna Feat. Justin Timberlake

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

This picture is so '90s, I can smell the teen spirit. It's cropped from a group photo of my college newspaper's staff in December 1993, during my sophomore year. At 19 here, I was the entertainment editor.

The guy beside me was the graphic designer. We used to lay out the weekly paper on Thursdays after classes. This being the days before the Internet was widely used, I would drive home around 5 p.m. each Thursday to watch CNN's "Showbiz" report, where some blonde broad would run down Billboard's Top 10 singles. I'd write it down, then drive back to the newspaper office on campus and do a write-up on the #1 single each week. I didn't have to. I just liked doing it.

Graphic designer guy and I weren't the best of friends, but he'd bring Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day tapes to layout night, and somehow my pop heart got hooked. Of course, I made him play "Today" over and over again, and would protest when he'd attempt to let the cassette play through the other songs -- just the hits, please!

But evenutally Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream became one of those seminal albums that mesmerized me throughout the following spring semester, and guided me through boring suburban winter blues and term papers. When everyone else at school was stunned by Kurt Cobain's suicide that April, I defiantly played Siamese Dream on a continuous loop for days.

Life's a bummer when you're a hummer.

After six years and three months, tomorrow is my last day as an employee at Instinct Magazine. It's been a long and interesting ride, but this year it just felt right to finally move on. Change appears to be in the air.

It's strange when you work somewhere for six years. Especially when that stretch arcs from your twenties to your thirties. You start to wonder about where all the time went.

I took a walk last night, and Smashing Pumpkins' "Thirty-Three" popped up. In addition to the irony of my age and the song title, the lyrics suddenly held a lot more weight last night than they ever did when I was 21, when I got Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness for Christmas:

Speak to me in a language I can hear
Humor me before I have to go
Deep in thought I forgive everyone
As the cluttered streets greet me once again

And, especially since last month marked nine years since I left Pennsylvania for California:

For a moment I lose myself
Wrapped up in my pleasures of the world

I've journeyed here and there and back again
But in the same old haunts I still find my friends

The last period I took time off between working was August 1996. I'd spent that summer before my senior year of college toiling away as a bagger at a grocery store, and I wanted to have three weeks to just unwind.

My pal M.G. and I had tickets to see Smashing Pumpkins in Pittsburgh that month, but the band's drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, overdosed on heroin and that tour date got postponed. I trudged through that final academic fall and spring, then did a summer internship.

For the next 11 years I shuffled through a series of five jobs wherein I'd start one the day after leaving the previous one. And so, for the first time since August 1996, I'm taking a much-needed break for two weeks and heading back to Pennsylvania.

Maybe I'll even take a drive to the college and snap a photo on those same steps in the picture at the top, where, in much more innocent days, I could still be found typing away with a peculiar sense of excitement about whatever song was #1 each week.

Steeple guide me to my heart and home...

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